Heal Your Health Blog

8 Foods to Relieve Stress

Updated: Oct 2, 2018

Skip the chips and fill up on antioxidant filled anti-anxiety foods!

Stress! Whether it be the boss, the hubby, the kids, (young or grown), the demands of just being the super women that we are, or probably a combination thereof ..... STRESS we all have it to some degree, but we may handle it differently.

Stress Management

Managing stress properly is an important piece in our wellness toolbox. Stress hormones like cortisol can take a toll on our body over time and can even ultimately lead to different forms of disease as we age and we all handle it differently. However a common choice is comfort food. We've all eaten it, and at time probably even craved it ... but ironically it's those "comfort food" choices that ultimately make the top button of our pants quite uncomfortable and maybe even inadvertently adding more stress to your life. The choices I am speaking of for some might be mac and cheese, a home cookin' chicken and dumplings, or if you are more of the sweet tooth type, maybe its cake or (a sleeve of ;) ) " Girl Scout cookies. Regardless, there is a difference in temporarily satisfying a desire and truly tapping into the inherent qualities in the food like a specific nutrient that bring a true calm to us through our gut.

Here are 8 choices to consider adding to your diet:

Blueberries, one of the best sources of the anti-oxidant anthocyanthin, and like all other berries are rich in vitamin C which has been shown to be helpful in combating stress.  It helps to lower your blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol, which by the way often end up as belly fat!  They are also great frozen as a go to snack with a different texture. 

Yogurt - As bizarre as it may sound, your gut health may be contributing to stress. Up to 90% of our neurotransmitters such as our feel good chemicals, serotonin and dopamine, actually start in the gut. There is a connection between the gut and brain known as the gut brain axis, which is why stress can cause digestive issues such as reflux, an upset tummy or worse. Consuming probiotic enhanced yogurt has been known to help with handling our emotions or anxiety. Besides it's a great alternative source of protein that is also rich in calcium so this is a great "heal your health" choice!

Avocado  is a superfruit that helps shut down your stress by filling your belly with a healthy fat.   These creamy fruits are rich in glutathione, which blocks many LDL (low density lipoprotein) fats, otherwise know as bad cholesterol that can cause oxidative damage or stress on our system. They are also rich in stress relieving vitamins B, beta carotene, and potassium which helps lower blood pressure. I love to add them to a morning or post workout smoothie and the creamy texture is creates is almost milkshake-like. avocado added. Another quick breakfast or snack to help de-stress is also a nice grain bread toasted with a schmear of avocado and some garlic salt... I am getting hungry now just typing it :)

Dark chocolate, another superfood rich in polyphenols and flavonols, is heart healthy due to these antioxidant qualities, and is definitely helpful in decreasing depressive symptoms.  Much like I mentioned the thin mints, we've all been there, oh, or was it just me? ;O But in all seriousness chocolate does indeed make us feel better, just make sure you reach for the right kind! It can actually create a euphoric sense, Just try to choose one that contains 70% or more or cacao. Oatmeal is a complex carb that causes a boost in the production of serotonin, a feel good neurotransmitter which promotes a feeling of calmness. As a warm 'homey' comfort food, almost nostalgic to me, it also creates an inner soothing feeling that helps us to overcome stress as well as keep our brain sharp throughout the day.

Beef - it's what's for dinner! Grass-fed beef has more antioxidants, including vitamins C, E, beta-carotene than grain-fed beef. The vitamin alone reduces both the physical and psychological effects of stress. Grass fed is not injected with hormones, but equally important, nit's two to four times higher in hearth healthy omega-3s which have been linked to lowering inflammation, the chance of cardiovascular issues, cancer and yes... Depression! Grass-fed beef can be a little more costly but worth the splurge now and again.  Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid, and other polyphenols that have been shown to help prevent memory loss. And have been proven to provide a bit of a cognitive even potentially reversing some signs of brain aging. I love to throw in my smoothies as well as salad and even my oatmeal for a double-whammy of stress relief!

Turkey - I am sure you've heard that tryptophan in turkey is to blame for that post dinner coma so many pf people encounter on Thanksgiving. Tryptophan, which is found in proteins, helps produce serotonin, the feel-good chemical as well. And while tryptophan may have a calming effect all on its own, once combined with the serotonin that it produces, you really can't go wrong with turkey! Gobble Gobble!

Salmon, a 3-ounce serving of cooked wild salmon can have more than 2,000 milligrams of omega-3s, which can decrease the negative effects of cortisol that is generally is amped up when anxious or stressed. Omega 3 rich foods can prevent surges in stress hormones and help protect against heart disease, and depression as well.  A good recommendation is two 3.5 oz servings weekly.

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